Doctoral abstract

Balancing on Borderlines:  Printmaking pathways into multi-faceted identities of Australian-born Chinese


In this globalised world where people of different cultures are interspersing at an increasing rate, many individuals of mixed cultural heritage are searching for a sense of belonging. While some are content to move from one culture to another, others find themselves on the borderlines or in-between cultures. Through visual art, some of these individuals have expressed their identity through a mix of cultural and other influences. As one of these individuals, I concentrate on these borderline or in-between cultural spaces in trying to understand this position of uncertainty.

This research project investigates multiple identity constructions of Australians with Chinese heritage, in particular, those born in Australia. My investigation is motivated by the following questions: How do influences on the diverse cultural identity constructions of Australian-born Chinese affect their sense of belonging, particularly in the borderlines between cultures? How can printmaking be used in innovative ways to express this diversity and represent the persistent search for a sense of place? The central premise is that many individuals oscillate amongst a variety of identity spaces, searching for balance on the borderlines of various cultures.

Through my studio practice I have created ‘hybrid’ or fusion artworks, merging different imagery of the Australian and Chinese landscapes through various media, exploring multiple roles of printmaking as a traditional as well as modern art-form. These works are informed by other contemporary Chinese-Australian visual artists. The results of this studio practice are realised in an installation exhibition entitled Balancing on Borderlines. The exegesis encompasses an interdisciplinary approach including history, cultural studies and visual arts. The historical and cultural studies frameworks provide a theoretical background for my studio practice. An explanation of the creative process and progression of studio work connects the theoretical background and conceptual framework with the body of artwork to explore ‘oscillation’ of identity.

between two worlds

thesis link